Saturday afternoon saw two undefeated teams square off and after 90 minutes of play, that did not change with both the 25th-ranked Duquesne and Massachusetts men’s soccer teams competing to a scoreless stalemate.
This draw brought Duquesne to eight games without a loss, its best start in program history.
“We are a team that is sacrificing for each other and working our butts off,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks told PSN after the match. “As you go through a season, you need to have that type of mentality in order to survive. I’m proud of their ability to grind and fight for everything… It’s a credit to the guys. They’re working so hard for each other and willing to sacrifice so much. It’s a great feather in their cap and hopefully something we can continue to build on. We have bigger goals, and higher aspirations. We are a team that wants to compete for and win championships.”
Brooks was pleased that Duquesne displayed urgency following a nine-hour bus ride separated over two days, which saw the team arrive in Amherst Friday and get a practice in.
Duquesne had to be prepared for a UMass side which brought size, press and physicality, while also understanding how arduous of a task it is to leave Rudd Field with points.
Overall, Brooks considers Saturday’s tie exactly that, with the end result not feeling like a win or a loss as some draws can provoke different emotions.
Duquesne had a season-best 10 corners on the afternoon, doubling up UMass in that statistic, but were held to two shots on goal, none of which came in the second half.
That being said, Brooks specifically singled out captain Maxi Hopfer’s efforts in this game stating he was fantastic in creating opportunities and being a nuisance, which are both positives as his play continues to trend upwards.
Given the high level of soccer in an Atlantic 10 Conference which is generating more respect among coaches, it provided for a competitive watch for those in attendance, however Brooks preached a message he has echoed all season, to play within style and principles.
With Saturday’s result, Duquesne captain Domenic Nascimben earned his fifth shutout of the season, recording five saves over 90 minutes of play. Nascimben has been named the A-10 Defensive Player of the Week each of the past two weeks.
Now the next task, following the bus ride home is a turnaround at an Akron side ranked 14th in the last coaches poll.
Akron recently faced a Pitt side, with peaks and valleys from both sides culminating in a 3-3 tie.
“Anytime you get a chance to test yourself against some of the best in the country it’s never a bad thing,” said Brooks. “I think the guys will be up for it and are excited for it. It’s about representing ourselves well and playing Duquesne soccer.”
Given the tired legs from the bus ride, Duquesne will have two days of practice before the Akron game, though Brooks has compared this upcoming stretch to the beginning of the season when the Dukes faced three consecutive road matchups where the mental side will be the larger focal point.
There of course will be some physical aspects, but the priority in that regard is more on rest and recovery, with video work a lot more prevalent.
“You’ll have moments where there are moments to train and others where there is no time to train,” Brooks said. “That’s the mode we’re in right now and there’s nothing wrong with that. We work as hard as we do in preseason to make sure the guys understand the principles and what adversity is, that way we’re ready for trips like this.”
Duquesne starters (6-0-2/1-0-1 A-10)- Domenic Nascimben (GK), Jesper Moksnes, Torge Witteborg, Maxi Hopfer, Jacob Casha, Elmar Jonsson, Harper Cook, Anthony Harding, Nate Dragisich, Ask Ekeland, Cameron Territo
Massachusetts starters (5-0-4/0-0-2 A-10)- Matt Zambetti (GK), Matt Fordham, Nathaniel Cardoza, Evan Fournier, Jack Englebert, Andrew Ortiz, Ryan Levay, Aidan Kelly, Brad Moccio, Alec Hughes, Shizu Yohena
Yellow Cards- Andrew Ortiz UMASS 54′, Jayden Da DUQ 81′, Tom Tzabari DUQ 89′
Shots- UMass 19 (5 on frame), Duquesne 7 (2 on frame)
Corners- Duquesne 10 UMass 5